Monday, October 15, 2007

a new springtime of Catholic arts: Pavel Chichikov

I wrote in my last entry about Debra Murphy's plea, "Pray for a Catholic literary revival", which translates so readily into "Pray for a revival of Catholic arts". So I thought I'd start showcasing people who are doing exactly that.

Pavel Chichikov

I met Pavel virtually on, one of the oldest Catholic forums on the Internet. I first started reading it in 1982.

The listserv was a hotbed of liturgical internecine war back then. This was valuable, because through it I first discovered folks who still prayed the rosary, made novenas, folks who thought the Agnus Dei and the Kyrie Eleison added rather than subtracted from the beauty of the Liturgy. The listserv saved my Catholic life during the early years of my return from atheism. I came back to a parish whose Director of Religious Education purged the parish library of any book with a copyright earlier than 1962, because "that's before Vatican II. It's worthless".*

So internecine wars or not, was light in the darkness. But it also left a harsh taste in the mouth at times. Tempers flared, arguments disintegrated at times into flame wars.

Into all the heat strode Pavel with little bits of light and calm. With his poems. He would post them without preface or discussion. Poems drifting down like parachutes delivering sustenance to the weary troops.

I later met Pavel in person, and found him to be as strong and gentle in person as in his poems.

This one is from his collection Lion Sun, available now on amazon.

Golgotha's Mary

Not alone to shepherds or in caves
No burning cherub or Creator's slave
But one of us, Mater Creatoris

Not alone to victims or to innocents
You also come to help impenitents
And prisoners. Mater Salvatoris

Not alone to save the faithful weak
But those who crucify you also seek
To hear them, Consolatrix afflictorum

Not alone to heal infected hope
And those condemned to bullet or to rope
But also killers. Salus infirmorum

Gentle and forgiving the unloved
We hear you in the pitying of the doves
And follow you, Regina Angelorum

*And when I say purged, I don't mean that our good-hearted and well-meaning DRE took the old books off the shelf to give to Goodwill or Salvation Army. She put them out in the trash, either because that's how worthless she thought them, or she did not want to contaminate any minds with thought from "the bad old days" of Newman, Chesterton, the Fathers of the Church, St. Francis de Sales, Henri Daniel-Rops, and their ilk. She was honestly perplexed by my request to keep them, but said sure, if I wanted to though she didn't know why I'd want any of them. My Pious Ladies Bookmobile may have had its genesis in those bags of "worthless old books" I rescued from the trash.

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